Can You Go to America with a Criminal Record?

can i go to america with a criminal record

The United States of America is a catchy place for people all around the world; with ample sight-seeings and wonderful career opportunities, many expatriates yearn to visit it.

However, entering there is not a piece of cake, and the U.S. government possesses strict security rules for the people entering here. On the ESTA application, you will be asked about the Criminal Record which might deem you at risk.

So, if you have got affiliation with crime and are wondering if you can go to America with a Criminal record, then read till the end to know all the possibilities.

Can You Go To America With A Criminal Record from the U.K?

Many people are spreading misleading information about being banned from the U.S. with any sort of Criminal record. However, it largely depends upon what type of crime you committed.

There are a few steps that you need to know when applying to the U.S. with an ESTA criminal record.

As a U.K. citizen, if you want to go to the U.S. for less than 90 days, you can travel through the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) and apply by authorization under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) program.

The ESTA has a few important crime-related questions which mark your eligibility. Some of them are as listed below:

  •  Have you ever been arrested or convicted for a crime that caused serious harm to Someone’s property, life, or government authority?
  • Have you ever violated some law which is related to distributing, consuming, or keeping drugs?
  • Have you ever been involved in any kind of terrorist activities, genocide, espionage or sabotage, etc.?
  • Have you ever shown yourself as somebody else or helped anyone else to enter the U.S. without real identity?
  •  Have you worked in the U.S. without a Work permit?
  • Have you ever been refused entry at the U.S. entry port?

If your answer is ‘Yes’ to any of the questions above, then it doesn’t necessarily make you banned from the U.S. In fact, you would need to apply from the U.S. embassy. For this application, you would have to apply for the Police certificate as well as have an Interview conducted. For further details, you can check the U.S. State department’s website, where they have given information about the conditions where they might issue the visa or not.

How can I increase my chances of going to America with a criminal record?

  • Provide a valid reason for traveling to the U.S. with the police certificate
  • If you have any kinship in the U.S. 
  • If you show an improved good moral character
  • You have enough finance to fund your visit
  • If you got a paid job in the U.S.

Can I Lie on ESTA about my Criminal record?

The answer is simply “yes”. Most people travel to the U.S. on a daily basis by not disclosing their criminal record on ESTA and travel with no difficulties through simple visas. The U.S. government doesn’t have access to police records, and if they are concerned about a particular individual, they might ask for access. However, this is quite rare.

Generally, those who lie on the ESTA form are risk-takers because this is also typically a criminal offense and might cause problems if inspected.

Those on holiday or visiting for brief days generally lie on their ESTA. However, it’s much more difficult to obtain a U.S. work visa with a criminal record, and even with false information, you might be at a huge risk.

What are the consequences of lying on the ESTA form?

  1. Criminal prosecution: Providing False information for attaining a visa waiver would lead to prosecution and two years’ imprisonment under the Immigration & Nationality act.
  2. You can get deported from the U.S.: When you reach the airport, you will be asked several questions, and if in case some differ from the visa waiver, then this can lead to refusal of entry or deportation from the U.S. 
  3. They will refuse future Visa Entry: While applying again for the visa, they will preserve your previous criminal record in the police certificate, which may disclose the illegal act, which is likely to result in the refusal of a further visa.

How can you apply for a visa to the U.S. embassy with a criminal record?

If you remain ineligible, you can apply for a Business (B1) or Pleasure (P2) visa from the U.S. embassy.

Visa Application form

Here you just need to tell about any arrest or conviction, regardless of time passed or type of offense.

Personal Data Sheet

You can enunciate the complete details about yourself and what you have declared here.  The time of conviction, the type of it, and whether you were under or above 18 years of age will be mentioned here.

Police Certificate

This certificate is issued by AARCO within six months of visa application and contains the official criminal record.

Visa interview

The last and most essential, this interview is conducted in London to see whether to approve or deny the visa depending upon the case. A few questions you can prepare are:

Why are you going to America?

Why would you be coming back to the U.K.?

Why did you commit the crime?

What did you learn from the crime?

How are you different now? You can mention education, counseling, behavior, etc.


Can you go to Florida with a Criminal record?

Florida is located in the southern region of America, so the rules implied are the same. If you have a criminal record, then you can’t go on a Visa Waiver. In fact, you would have to apply for a visa and provide your complete information along with the police certificate.

Can you get a work visa in the U.S. with a criminal record?

If an employer hires you in the U.S. and is willing to aid you in getting a temporary employment visa, it can be possible. However, the chances are quite rare if you have a criminal record.

Can I clear my conviction record in the U.K.?

You can best clear your conviction by appealing to the court. They will take legal action, and you will need some legal assistance to remove your record from the police databases. The time to clear the conviction can be briefed depending upon the case.

What convictions refuse you to enter America?

The crimes are divided into three serious harms. First, crime against persons includes murder, rape, manslaughter, harassment, kidnapping, abduction, etc. The second is a crime against Someone’s property, such as theft, burglary, fraud, etc., and the last is harm against government authorities, such as Tax cheating, fraud, and bribery.

Can you enter Mexico with a criminal record?

Ans. You should keep in mind that if you have a criminal record, then the Visa waiver that U.K. citizens hold won’t be considered, and you can be refused entry, arrested, or even deported back at the time of your entry into the U.S. 

You must officially declare all your offenses in the ESTA form and apply through the visa to enter legally.

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